Simplify Your Writing - Avoid These 44 Overused Words & Phrases

Writing simply and clearly is essential in business, or any, writing. We write sentences to convey messages. If we want to communicate, we need to keep them short. We should avoid verbiage by using mostly verbs and nouns and by not using empty phrases and meaningless words like those in the Infographic. 

Avoid using words to fill up space. Modifiers, qualifiers, and intensifiers (very, almost, nearly, quite) add nothing to our writing. Unnecessary adjectives and adverbs clutter up the page and put our readers to sleep. 

We should also avoid using big words and empty phrases because we think they makes us sound clever. Redundancy is also a problem. 

'A document does not have more value because it is longer. Repeating information does not make it more important. Using jargon does not make the message more significant.' (Source: 3 Ways To Write In Plain Language)

Here are 44 overused words and phrases to avoid when you write.

Source for Infographic: Grammar Check

If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme

If you enjoyed this post, read:

~~~

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Affect vs Effect & 34 Other Common Confusions

There are many writing mistakes that will make your email, letter, or report look unprofessional. These commonly confused words are some of them. 

Source: Grammar Check

If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme. If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

If you enjoyed this post, read:

~~~

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Word Crimes

We're taking a break from regular blogging, and we thought you would enjoy watching Word Crimes by "Weird Al" Yankovic - if you haven't seen it yet. It's one of our favourite videos of all time.

If you enjoyed this video, you may like :
  1. How Annoying Email Habits Would Appear In Real Life
  2. Kurt Vonnegut On The Shape Of Stories

If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme. If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

~~~

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

200 Ways To Say 'Good'

Does the overuse of the word 'good' annoy you? Good weather, good movies, good music, good life, good this, good that…

Are you looking for words that convey what you mean more effectively? If you are, you may find this infographic to be helpful.


Infographic created by Jack Milgram.

If you enjoyed this infographic, look at these:

If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme. If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

~~~

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

12 Common Writing Mistakes Bloggers Make

Source: Grammar Check

If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme. If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

If you enjoyed this post, read:

~~~

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Why You Should Not Use Nominalisations When You Write


According to About Grammar, a nominalisation is a word formation in which a verb (or other part of speech) is used as (or transformed into) a noun. It is also called nouning. For example, 'argument' is a nominalisation of 'argue'. They are often used in academic and corporate writing.

The endings of nominalisations vary, but most of them end in one of these: 
-ion 
-tion 
-ment 
-ity 
-ty 
-ness
Here are some examples:


Why are they bad for your writing? 

A nominalisation is a type of abstract noun. An abstract noun denotes an idea, quality, emotion, or state. It is something that is not concrete. It takes the power away from the original verb.

When we write in plain language, we try to avoid nominalisations, because they make sentences unclear. If we use them, we have to use more words in our sentences. They drain the life out of our writing.  

In fact, nominalisations are often used in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) to induce a light trance. 'If we use lots of nominalisations together, the mind is not sure exactly what is being said and so it drifts off and gets distracted...' (source


When they are used instead of verbs, it sounds as if nothing is happening in the sentence. Here are some examples:
The distribution of the resources was set for inclusion in the discussion
is weaker than
We discussed how we would distribute the resources. 

The results from the gathering of the data were used for the formulation of questions.
is weaker than
We gathered data to formulate questions.

The implementation of the method allowed for the stoppage of waste. 
is weaker than
The team implemented the method to stop the waste.
If you want people to pay attention to your writing, do not use too many nominalisations.

Resource: Purdue OWL

If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme

 by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Facebook,  Tumblr,  Pinterest,  Google+,  LinkedIn,  and on Twitter:  @amandaonwriting

If you enjoyed this article, read:

~~~

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

33 Commonly Misunderstood Words & Phrases

Source: Grammar Check

If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme. If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

If you enjoyed this post, read:

~~~

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

9 Free Online Grammar Resources You Can't Ignore

If you're looking for a selection of writing and grammar websites to use as a reference, we suggest you explore these. Writers need to find a site that is user-friendly and reliable, and one that suits their writing needs. 

Please share your favourite sites in the comments section below. 

Here are a selection of sites we recommend:

  1. British Council Quick Grammar - This reference section gives brief explanations of 48 of the more common areas of grammar, each with an activity to help you learn. 

  2. Oxford English Dictionaries Grammar - Do you want a quick answer to a specific point, such as whether it's wrong to split an infinitive or to end a sentence with a preposition such as on? Go straight to the quick-reference grammar tips section. If you want more detailed advice on, for example, types of pronouns or how to build well-formed sentences, browse through the headings and explore the different sections. 

  3. Perfect English Grammar - Seonaid, a British native speaker of English, has a blog that gives more than explanations. It also gives tips on how to learn grammar. 

  4. English Grammar - Learn all aspects of the English written language to help you improve your writing skills in both personal and formal communications. 

  5. Grammarly Handbook - Grammarly is a website where you can check your grammar. This online handbook answers all of your grammar questions. 

  6. Grammar Monster - This website offers explanations about everything to do with grammar. It also has a short test for each of its sections. 

  7. GrammarBook.com - This reference site serves anyone and everyone seeking to improve their English grammar and punctuation skills. 

  8. Apostrophe Protection Society - The site was started in 2001 by John Richards, now its Chairman, with the specific aim of preserving the correct use of this currently much abused punctuation mark in all forms of text written in the English language. 

  9. Writing Explained - This site is dedicated to providing the best educational articles on writing that the web has to offer and features hundreds of articles on grammar, style, and usage with examples and quizzes. 

If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme. If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

 by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Facebook,  Tumblr,  Pinterest,  Google+,  LinkedIn,  and on Twitter:  @amandaonwriting

If you enjoyed this article, read:

~~~

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

5 Weak Words To Avoid & What To Use Instead

In this Infographic, Jennifer Frost talks about padding words, weak verbs and nouns, and how to avoid them. She even includes and references our famous post, 45 Ways To Avoid Using The Word 'Very' in the Infographic.

One way to weaken your writing is to add modifiers and qualifiers, as well as unnecessary adverbs and adjectives. There are times when they may necessary, effective, and appropriate. However, they mostly support weak nouns and verbs.Choose strong, appropriate nouns and verbs instead. [Read 10 Ways To Tell If You Are Writing With Confidence]

Another is to write in the passive voice. [Read From Passive Voice To Active Voice - How To Spot It & How To Change It]

Source: Grammar Check

If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme. If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

If you enjoyed this post, read:

~~~

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Why You Need White Space When You Write (And 5 Ways To Create It)


We all suffer from information overload. It’s often called information fatigue. We need our information to be as easy to read as possible, because we are exposed to so much of it on a daily basis. 

Whether you are a creative writer or a business writer you will have heard about white space. We come across this advice again and again: Make sure you have enough white space. 

But what does 'white space' mean? 

White space is a design principle. Simply, the absence of text draws your eye to the text. It literally refers to the amount of space around and between the words.  

It is about creating text that is inviting to the reader. When your text forms a solid block it overwhelms your reader. The reader is negative about it, before they even begin to read. 

Think about textbooks. They generally have long paragraphs, with long sentences. There is very little white space. Below is an image of George Orwell’s 1984. It is a good example of a book with very little white space, and even though it’s one of the more readable classics, you still have to work hard.


We should use white space because
  • it makes it easier for us to read.
  • it draws the reader’s attention to the text.
  • it is uncluttered and calming. 
Five ways to create white space: 
  1. Use lists. When you list items it makes it scannable. If you have more than three points it is better to number your items instead of using bullets. Try not to use more than 3-5 bullets.  
  2. Increase line spacing. If it is possible increase your line spacing on your documents. A good average is 1.5. Remember to refer to the company style guide before you do this. 
  3. Shorten your sentences. Long sentences form solid blocks. You should vary the length of your sentences. 
  4. Break up paragraphs. Reconsider your paragraphs and try to discuss only one point per paragraph. 
  5. Avoid justifying your documents. People are passionate about justifying their documents, but it makes it harder to read and proofread. Most professional documents have been typeset and your average computer doesn’t typset very well. It creates rivulets (diagonal spaces) between the words, uneven spaces in sentences and solid blocks of text.
White space is about letting your writing and your reader breathe.

If you are interested in learning how to improve your business writing skills, join us for The Plain Language Programme

 by Mia Botha

If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

  1. Why You Need To Write In Plain Language
  2. From Passive Voice To Active Voice - How To Spot It & How To Change It
  3. September Writing Prompts

~~~

    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.